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Reader, Department of History, University of Essex

I was born in Sichuan province, China, and gained my BA from Sichuan University. I then came to the UK for my postgraduate work, receiving my PhD from the University of London in 1998. In the past 20 years, I have lived in London, Jerusalem, Beijing and Hong Kong. Between January 2001 and December 2007, I was a Research Fellow in the History Department at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London and from December 2007 to December 2012 I was Research Assistant Professor at the School of Humanities, University of Hong Kong.

My research is concerned with modern China. I am among a growing number of historians who are pioneering the history of the People's Republic of China through the use of new oral and archival evidence. Based on thousands of archival documents and hundreds of interviews I have collected, my recent works The Great Famine in China, 1958-1962: A Documentary History (2012) and Forgotten Voices of Mao's Great Famine, 1958-1961: An Oral History (2014) are powerful accounts which have helped to reshape our understanding of modern Chinese history.

I have recently completed a major study on Health Intervention and Delivery in the PRC. This is part of the European Commission Research Executive Agency funded project. Capitalising on previously unseen archival sources from across China AND extensive oral interviews with the participants at the expert and grassroots level, my new book 'The People's Health: Health Intervention and Delivery in China', will be published by McGill-Queen University University Press in Spring 2020, sets out to develop a nuanced understanding of the Chinese approach to health. It explores the processes through which the PRC's health system was conceived and the political context in which they were, and could be evaluated. This book contributes to global health policy debates concerning the importance of political commitment to health, sustained investment, access to health, the pursuit of community engagement, and action on the wider determinants of health.

I have also a long track record in media activities. Some of my interviews with famine survivors have appeared in the award winning French Documentary film Mao's Great Famine (2012).


  • –present
    Reader, Department of History, University of Essex